Did the North Win the Civil War before it Began?
I agree with the idea that the North had won the Civil War before it began to the extent of Lincoln’s conservative political stands. Trying to receive the favor of the South while winning in the North would require Lincoln to take neutral stands in heated political issues like slavery. It wasn’t really wan by the North until he broke away from these stands to enact the Emancipation Proclamation and turn the tides of war in favor of the North. “This Lincoln always publicly condemned the abolitionists who fought slavery by extra constitutional means – and condemned also the mobs who deprived them of their right of free speech and free press.” (Holfstadter, Lincoln and the Self-Made Myth) Other than that, the North had the upper hand in nearly all aspects that really mattered in times of war. With this information it is clear that without Lincoln’s conservative political stands a “Quick War” would have been much more realistic. Either way, the North had won the Civil War before it began. While the North thought about attacking and invading, the South thought about defending and causing attrition.
As the Civil War came underway the South’s military, smaller than the North’s, would take heavy blows from the decisions of the Confederacy. First of all they knew that if all their plantation owners fought in the war, their crops would possibly die out or not produce as much. To combat this problem they decided in the Conscription law that if someone had twenty or more slaves, they didn’t have to fight in the war. This caused the price of slaves to increase and caused crops from small slave holding plantations and yeoman farmers to do terrible. Since most Southerners fell into that category, the South would really feel the damage. Also the Impressment Act would take food from farmers to help feed the armies. This would demoralize the small Southern farmers and cause desertions, poor riots and ultimately put a negative face on the new confederacy. These internal divisions weren’t only a Southern problem, in fact the North had bitter divisions over conscription, taxes, suspension of habeas corpus, martial law and emancipation. “If anything, the opposition was more powerful and effective in the North than in the South.” (Why Did the Confederacy Lose?, pg 120) However the powerful opposition in the North was not as crucial in sharply decreasing support. The Southern yeomen farmers who originally supported and fought for the Confederacy were alienated over time because of inflation, food shortages, high taxes and the idea that they were fighting to protect slavery. It would be like a baseball team fighting to protect their right to play with footballs.
The South’s dominating strategy in winning the civil war was attrition. They believed they could wear down the political will of the North if they held out long enough to make the Northerners tired and question value of the means to...